A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO GRASSROOTS TRAINING IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
Sponsored by the Finnish Embassy Local Cooperation Fund
Finn-Swazi Friendship Association T/A Indlu Finlandia PO Box A75 Swazi Plaza Mbabane Swaziland www.indlu.org email@example.com
Published by Indlu Finlandia 2008 Copyright c 2008 by Aleta Armstrong and Indlu Finlandia. The Authors assert the moral right to be identified as the authors of this work. ISBN 978-0-7978-0115-8. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers.
The basic principles
Guidelines for project leaders
Setting goals and action plans
Problem solving and creative thinking
Dealing with conflict
Keeping customers happy
Passion is contagious!
Annexure Sample training checklist Sample student application form Example of a student assessment form Sample order form
51 52 53 54
About the authors
Sample Budget plan
Introduction The Indlu story
Indlu Finlandia is a small, non-profit project based in Swaziland’s Ezulwini Valley. It was established at the end of 2004 as a Design and Training Centre for unemployed people in Swaziland. Indlu is funded by the Government of Finland. Initially staffed only by a Project Manager, Indlu currently has an assistant and three supervisors appointed from among its students. Indlu runs free courses in the field of art and design, such as beadwork, sewing, sculpture, papier-mâché, clay work and product development. This training, aimed at creating income-generating opportunities for its students, is supplemented by a comprehensive range of much needed life skills training including communication skills, fundamental microbusiness skills, personal budgeting and health (HIV) information. Indlu’s philosophy is to teach people to help themselves and give them the practical skills and the confidence to do so. In this way, Indlu takes a holistic approach to developing its students. The Design and Training Centre provides students with access to machines, tools, materials and work space. Indlu also provides assistance to the students with marketing and exporting their products (an essential but often overlooked, component of development training projects). It does this in two ways: those without the means to work for themselves can participate in piecework to meet customer orders and for those working independently, Indlu can offer advice, assist with product development and quality. Indlu can also assist with finding markets for products and securing orders if the artist can demonstrate that they are reliable suppliers and can meet Indlu’s quality standards. Indlu is a place to meet others, share ideas and get advice on microbusiness, design or product development. Through Indlu, students have access to resources and opportunities that would otherwise not be available to them. Indlu also provides its training courses for other local and international non-government organisations (NGOs) and works with rural communities and income-generation projects. Students completing training with Indlu receive a certificate of achievement. They then have an opportunity to work with Indlu on income generating projects, usually on a piecework basis and subject to demand for Indlu products.
Indlu produces a range of unique, innovative, handmade products with an African theme. Materials used, focus on local resources and recycled products. There are currently 35 products in the Indlu range including: beaded hessian bags, conference bags, angels made from recycled soft drink cans, hand painted papier-mâché sculptures, beaded wire animals and magic calabashes.
What makes Indlu different?
When Indlu began, there were no guidelines or models to refer to, on how to set up an NGO that would help alleviate poverty and provide employment opportunities for people with little or no education or formal skills. Operations started small and slow and Indlu experimented. The founders’ backgrounds in business meant there was a strong focus on results from the very beginning. Students’ introduction to Indlu is via a training course in one of the handicrafts. These courses vary from one to three weeks duration. For some students, this is enough to meet their needs and they don’t continue. Indlu’s strengths come into play for those students who stay on. These students become the “core” of Indlu and over time become involved in all aspects of the Indlu’s operations. Upon completion of the training, they are engaged in piecework where they learn about quality control, teamwork, communication, organisation and meeting deadlines. This learning takes place on-the-job, not in a classroom environment. With time they become involved in developing new product ideas and have the opportunity to practice creative thinking and designing. There are also regular mini workshops to teach business and life skills. These workshops are not overly formal, nor are they lectures; instead they focus on discussion, sharing problems and ideas and advice. As students learn and grow, so does their confidence and self esteem. They are assigned more responsibilities and become involved in teaching others. Those who show potential may be offered a permanent position. Indlu is an example of the training at work: as an organisation they learn as they work and adapt training methods when necessary. So, what makes Indlu different? Training in handicraft skills, business skills and life skills are all integrated with paid work. Learning and development takes place over time (it’s not a quick fix). Students earn an income as they are learning. Materials are provided and payment for work is made upfront. Indlu’s core philosophy is a focus on results: action, not talk. Students are expected to follow business principles on timekeeping, attendance and quality control. Indlu leads by example and models the desired behaviour. Innovative thinking and a willingness to try something different guides problem-solving and decision-making. 4
How this guidebook came about
Indlu has quickly gained a reputation for providing innovative and effective training, and being able to get the students earning an income. Its no-nonsense approach is something a little different in Swaziland. For those who have seen its achievements, Indlu is considered a model worthy of replicating. Thereâ€™s a steady stream of visitors to the design centre who want to know â€œhow do you do it?â€? This booklet aims to answer just that. There are no special secrets, no teams of highly paid experts and no complicated theories. Indlu works by applying common sense, innovative thinking and a businesslike approach; teaching people the basic skills they need and creating a supportive learning atmosphere where people can try, make mistakes and grow.
Who this guidebook is for
This guidebook is for any organisation, project or community group that wants to implement training at the grassroots level. This guidebook is not an academic work, rather it aims to share the lessons learned in a Swazi context. It is intended to supplement theory by providing practical guidelines and suggestions. Whilst Indlu works in the handcraft sector, the underlying principles can be applied in any grassroots training environment.
The basic principles Being organised and professional
Although Indlu is an NGO and reliant on donor funding, its operations are organised, efficient, professional and business-like. Potential trainees are required to complete an application form and a brief interview before they are accepted as students. Files are maintained for each student, that records their progress and any challenges. Indlu’s premises are clean and tidy, tools and equipment are maintained and cared for, materials are organised and properly stored. It is the students themselves who are responsible for these housekeeping duties. Indlu’s small premises have an atmosphere appropriate for an art and design centre – they are light and bright, fun, relaxed and friendly. One of the components of Indlu’s training model, that sets it apart from other models, is its strict policies about timekeeping, attendance, and quality control. The students are taught from their first day that Indlu is serious about training and about producing quality work. For some students this can be difficult to adapt to and they may choose not to continue. For those who stay, they find that these are important life lessons.
Timekeeping and attendance
Students are expected to be on time each day and are expected to attend on the days they have agreed to attend. In the event that they will be late or cannot attend, they are asked to inform Indlu’s Project Manager or a supervisor. The students understand that these rules benefit all of them. For example, the students explain that if they are doing piecework to meet an order deadline, they need to rely on each other to turn up to complete the work. Missed deadlines may mean that the customer does not place future orders and this will consequently affect their income. Each morning an assembly is held to plan the day’s work and to share important information; being late means missing this. These rules are simple but they apply in any job, whether it’s being a domestic worker, a machinist in a textile factory, or running a micro-business.
Work produced is expected to be high quality and of a standard that will be acceptable to customers. The students all agree that this can be difficult at first. It means their work is critically assessed and they will be given constructive feedback while they are still learning and potentially having to redo their work. Over time, however, they learn that this feedback helps them to learn and improve. They also learn that quality is about meeting the customers’ expectations and being able to sell their handcrafts. Again, simple principles that have application in any job. The concept of quality control also contributes to the students’ sense of pride in their work.
Being organised does not mean being inflexible. No matter how good the planning, unexpected events or factors beyond your control will arise. Be flexible and adaptable when need be. Good planning makes the task of adapting and reorganising easier to manage because thereâ€™s already a framework to work within and tasks that need to be changed are easily identified.
Action not talk
Indlu makes careful choices about the use of itsâ€™ limited resources (i.e. time and money) to ensure the most value and impact is achieved. This point is particularly important in relation to the overabundance of conferences, workshops and buffet lunches in the NGO sector that are misguidedly seen as essential to fighting poverty, hunger, HIV, unemployment and other social problems. These conferences are expensive and time consuming, often with no concrete outcomes. Do we really need a 3-day poverty alleviation conference to reach agreement that there is poverty and that something needs to be done about it? Do you really need to attend? Indlu believes resources are better spent on the ground, being hands-on and working directly with those who need assistance.
Indlu emphasises being selective about attending conferences and chooses only those where there is a clear benefit or outcome for the project. They believe that a lot of money is wasted on conferences, instead of reaching the people who really need it. Conferences can sometimes be a useful way of networking. However, the real value in networking comes afterwards when there is follow-up with the contacts made at the conference. Without the follow through, the value of networking is lost, so be prepared to put in the extra effort. If your project identifies a conference worth attending, then make the most of the opportunity. Be on time, actively participate, listen attentively, take notes and stay awake! A conference isn’t a day off and the prime objective isn’t the buffet lunch. Indlu hosts training workshops for other organisations on an increasingly regular basis. To minimise costs (and keep the focus on the real purpose of the training), a simple, fresh and healthy lunch of cheese and tomato sandwiches and fruit is provided. The basics for hosting a training workshop are a venue – which can be a room, a shed, or the shade of tree – some tables and chairs, and perhaps a flipchart. With this approach, the money saved can be put towards things that really matter, like buying production materials, tools, or rent. Learning can happen in many places, not just hotels. A five star venue and an expensive lunch don’t improve the quality of training.
Say what you mean
In the world of NGOs and donors, jargon and impressive sounding words abound. Terms such as “sustainability”, “capacity building”, “gender mainstreaming” and “institutional strengthening” are overused and leave many people utterly confused. Many do not understand what these terms really mean. Do you? And if you do, what about the people you are talking to? There’s little to be gained from making communication complex. What is more important is being sure that what is said (or written) is understood and clear to everyone. In Western countries, there has been a move over the past decade toward using what is called “plain English” in formal communication. There has been a realisation that getting the message across is what really matters. In these countries, once complicated jargon-filled insurance policies, for example, are now written in plain English so that customers can understand their policies. So use plain English or plain siSwati, especially when teaching new skills to students.
Guidelines for project leaders One of the contributing factors in Indlu’s success is the principle of leading by example. Here are some tips for getting your project in order before you embark on training others.
Having a good leader is one of the most important factors in the success of your NGO or project. Indlu has brainstormed with community groups and identified qualities they feel are important for leaders to have. A good leader should have the following qualities: A clear vision for the team Be prepared to make tough decisions Be fair and act without favouritism Be accountable Be honest and say “ no” to corruption and fraud Being organised Communicate and listen well Share their knowledge and teach others Help the team to achieve their goals and dreams Listen well to the team and customers Be able to make decisions in a crisis Delegate well, so they don’t become overburdened If you are the project leader, then you should ensure that you demonstrate these qualities. If you are looking for someone to be the project leader, then look for a person who has these attributes. Age, family status and respect are often important factors in selecting leaders in Swaziland, but these alone will not ensure good leadership; leaders also need the qualities listed above. Good leaders realise that their job is not glamorous. Leaders should expect to work harder than their team and be willing to get their hands dirty. When overtime is necessary they don’t expect to be paid for it. Leaders need to be involved in the everyday work of their organisation; staying locked in the office and simply giving orders means losing touch with the team. A good leader also understands it is important to be friendly and respectful to everybody and that there is no room for arrogance. Most importantly, good leaders don’t expect gratitude; they just get on and do their job well. Good leaders also pass on their skills to help others develop their leadership skills (a good leader has no need to feel insecure or threatened). At Indlu, when a student shows potential, the Project 9
Manager talks to them about taking on more leadership responsibilities and what to expect in such a role. The students are encouraged to lead by setting a good example for others. Being a leader can sometimes mean being unpopular and whilst it’s not possible to be everyone’s friend, it is possible to be kind and respectful. Leaders also play an important role in motivating and encouraging their team. Encouraging words, genuine praise and constructive criticism are necessary to help motivate people. See Working with Students to Build Self Esteem later in this section.
Planning and organisation
Use a desk or wall planner or calendar Choose a large one, at least A3 size, with lots of space for writing in. Write down important information – dates donor reports are due, training schedules, order deadlines, important meetings, holidays etc. Think ahead, prepare in advance Know what is happening and think about what’s needed and start preparing well in advance. If 10 new students are starting next week, ensure the teacher is available, materials are ordered in time, handout notes are photocopied and so on. Delegate Delegating will save you some time and give others the chance to learn and take on new responsibilities. Monitor stock and order in advance Keep a regular check on stocks – office stationery, training materials, production materials and tools – and re-order before you run out. Valuable time is wasted if work can’t continue because stocks are finished. If it takes two weeks to order in new beads from Johannesburg, then allow time for that. Keep a list of reliable suppliers. Develop simple systems to keep track. For example, tape a list to the inside of the door on the stationery cupboard. When someone sees stocks are getting low, they can add it to the list. Once a month an order can be placed based on that list. Make a daily “to do” list At the end of each day, write a list of things that must be done tomorrow. Use checklists For tasks that are repeated, developing a standard checklist can save time (see the example in Annexure 1).
Everything in its place and a place for everything Workspaces also need to be kept tidy and organised; it’s difficult to work in clutter and awkward spaces. Keep materials, tools, and equipment tidy using wall hooks, boxes, cupboards, baskets, shelves, trays, jars etc. Time isn’t wasted looking for things, items aren’t lost through carelessness and the workplace looks professional. Allocate 10 minutes at the end of every day to for students to tidy their work areas ready for the next day.
Keep a daily journal This can be done in an ordinary exercise book or notepad and handwritten. Spend 15 minutes to write down anything of importance that happened during the day. The information will be helpful when it is time to write donor reports or recall what activities happened in the past, or to keep track of student progress and issues. Maintain student application forms and files Type up an application form and keep copies at hand (see the example in Annexure 2). Completing it for each student is a simple way of collecting all of the information needed. Keep track of progress and any important information about students by writing up an assessment at least monthly. (An example is shown in Annexure 3). File the application forms and progress assessments in a lever arch folder with dividers, or in coloured files. Student information is then easily stored and recalled. Use simple systems to keep filing up to date Finding that slip of paper with the customer’s order on it amongst a pile of untidy papers on the office desk is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Almost anything can be used to file paperwork, from filing cabinets to bookshelves, to baskets, in-trays, cardboard boxes or large envelopes pinned to the wall. The trick is to clearly label the files and don’t let things pile up for more than a week. Standardise where possible Time can be saved on paperwork if standard formats are developed. For example, donor reports usually require an update of the same information that was reported on last month. Use the same report format each time. Develop standard fax templates, order forms and student application forms to save time.
Meet donor’s requirements Donors usually give clear guidelines and procedures to follow on how funds must be managed and accounted for. Wasting funds on unnecessary items, losing receipts or being unable to account for expenditure will make it very difficult to get further funding. So be organised and efficient! Get reports in on time, have good records and use funds wisely.
Put checks and balances in place Set up systems to ensure checks and balances are in place from the beginning. For example, have two signatories for cheques, have a team to check the books on a monthly basis and always issue receipts for cash. Keep written records of all sales, payments and purchases. Keep cash (e.g. petty cash) in a safe place where few people have access.
Keep everyone informed Meetings are the easiest way to let people know what’s happening and they don’t need to be long or formal. A meeting can be spur-of-themoment, taking just a few minutes to update students on plans for the day or to share important information. Indlu starts each day with a Morning Assembly, so there is at least one opportunity each day where everyone is gathered together and can plan the day or week ahead. Use a notice board A notice board is another handy way to share information. Upcoming events, relevant articles from the newspaper, sign-up sheets for new courses and any thing else you can think of, can be publicly displayed on the notice board. Make sure it’s kept up to date and old items removed regularly. Deal with issues as they arise Keep communication open and informal, address problems as they happen rather than let them build up. Everything that comes up is an opportunity for a life skills lesson! Get everyone involved Delegate responsibility for tasks: give the simplest tasks to newest learners and gradually increase their duties.
The bottom line
Helping others is not an excuse for inefficiency, poor organisation, or wasting resources. Think and act like a business! Being organised and efficient makes the best use of your limited resources, minimising waste of time and money.
Working with students to build self esteem
Many students come to Indlu having never had a job or after being out of work for a long time. Many also didn’t finish school. Consequently their self esteem and confidence levels are low and this is often evident in their communication and body language. In this context, learning something new is an added pressure and students may start out by saying “I can’t do it”. The role of the trainer is to help them move to “I can”. Self esteem needs to be built over time. An inability to be productive and a lack of purpose will knock anyone’s self esteem. Being at Indlu (or another training program) provides purpose, an opportunity to be productive, and a little competition with others. These are important first steps in building confidence. 12
In the first few weeks, students can be fragile so feedback and criticism needs to be gentle. In the beginning, feedback should focus on what they are doing right. Often, confidence will start to come when they’ve passed a course and received a certificate. Giving praise, particularly in front of the group, helps to build confidence. Ensure that the praise is both specific and genuine. A general comment like “nice work” is not as helpful as more specific praise like “nice work, particularly the way you’ve paid attention to detail and have done very neat finishes”. Praising work that is poor may seem kind, but it is counterproductive - if you take poor work to a customer, they simply will not buy it. Offer genuine praise that has been earned, or constructive feedback, for example, “It’s great that you are really trying, but can you see there needs to be more attention to detail here and here?” Explain to students that feedback and criticism is intended to teach them how to improve, it is not intended to hurt them. They may feel discouraged at first, but praising small improvements will help to motivate them to continue to improve. Indlu believes feedback needs to be honest and direct and as the students’ self-esteem builds and they become less fragile, feedback becomes blunter. Sounds harsh, but it reflects the realities of life. Customers won’t always be polite and wholesale buyers won’t be too kind about shoddy work. While praise in front of a group can be motivating, criticism is not. If there is some severe criticism that needs to be given, do it in private. The aim of criticism is to help students learn and improve, not to cause them shame or embarrassment. Another way to build students’ self esteem is to give them special tasks to do (even better if you can assign tasks that play to their strengths). People like to be recognised for their contributions. Create opportunities for people to shine; they will want more shining moments! For pieceworkers, their first payment provides an incredible sense of accomplishment. When your group needs a pick-me-up, ask each person to write down 5 of their own strengths. Have them read it out and cheer! More is discussed later in this booklet about the related topic of building confidence in communicating.
Learning from young and old
Indlu’s students range in age from 18 to 75 years. It’s wonderful to have such an age range. The older generation have precious handcraft skills that need to be passed on before they are lost forever. They can teach intricate skills and the virtue of patience. The youth bring fresh new ideas and contemporary styles. Together they can work to create amazing products. Youth, however, are facing challenges that their parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with. The youth need to be given a voice, an opportunity to share their views. Traditionally this is the domain of the old and wise. Foster an approach that allows both groups to be heard and that promotes teamwork and communication between the two groups. As children take on responsibilities for households and siblings and average life expectancy becomes ever shorter, the youth need to have a voice in communities and groups – they will be our leaders before we know it.
Organisation skills Overview
Organisation is important in the world of work. Businesses, even microbusinesses, simply don’t succeed if customer orders are lost, deadlines are missed, production materials aren’t available or the workplace is in a shambles. The ability to organise are fundamental life and vocational skills that students must have in order to succeed. Training in organisation skills should help students to: Plan and prioritise their work tasks Organise their working environment Manage the paperwork Teach students to plan out their work before they start. First they should set a realistic finishing date and identify the key steps to complete their work. For example, if making a large quantity of beadtrimmed table runners, it’s not efficient to make one at a time. It is faster to do the entire cutting and stitching first in preparation for the beadwork. Estimate the time each step will take and start work with the tasks that will take the longest. Expect that mistakes will happen and factor that in to the timeframes. Students should also estimate the materials and quantities needed to complete the project. Running out of materials midway through, will waste a lot of time.
The work environment
Don’t underestimate the importance of the working environment. Can you really produce good quality products on time if there’s not enough space to work and the tools are buried under a pile of materials making it impossible to find them? A good work space is well lit and adequately ventilated. It is neat and organised. Ensure there is sufficient room to carry out the work: painting batiks, for example, will require plenty of flat clear surfaces for working and drying, while bead work will require a smaller area where packs or jars of beads can be set out. Arrange materials and tools where they are close by and easy to access while working. Tools are an expensive asset and should be cared for. Store them away properly when they are not in use, keep them clean and use tools only for the purpose they are intended, to avoid damaging them. Be careful not to drop tools or throw them.
Making a good product is just one component of success, particularly for students wanting to run a micro-business. The administration is another key factor. Running a business means keeping track of stock, 15
knowing the income and expenses, monitoring customer orders and filing. You can base a workshop on this topic and explain the following points: Have files where all of your business information is kept (avoid keeping information in your head). Keep papers sorted using folders. Label each folder on the outside so its contents are known at a glance. Keep an order book to write down orders. An ordinary exercise book will do. Keep another book for writing down stocks of materials and their costs and keeping track of what has been used. Keep files and information up to date. The best way to do this is to make it part of the daily or weekly routine rather than allowing it to build up. Be prompt in replying to calls or emails requesting information or quotes.
Tips for the trainer
The previous section, Guidelines for Project Leaders, includes a lot of information about planning; organising and record keeping that can also be useful to teach students.
Time management Overview
The importance of good timekeeping
Everyone knows the old adage “time is money”. Yet in Swaziland the wisdom behind this sentiment is often lost. Instead there is an attitude of “there is no hurry in Swaziland” and being on “Swazi time” is acceptable. Time is a valuable resource and we are each given 24 hours in a day. How we choose to use those hours will determine what we get out of each day and ultimately, out of life. Students need to understand that there are important consequences of lateness and poor time management. Training in time management should help students to: Recognise the importance of good timekeeping Know what to do if being late is unavoidable Ask students to consider the consequences of being late. This exercise can be done simply as a group discussion and brainstorm, with responses being written up on a blackboard or flip chart. With a shy group, ask them to write down three consequences on a piece of paper. Once they’ve done this, collect the pieces of paper and read the responses aloud to the group. If the group is very large, break them into smaller groups and get them to work together in their small teams to answer the question. Here are some examples of the consequences students should identify: ¾ If you are late for work you may lose your job ¾ You could lose a sale if you keep a customer waiting ¾ It is disrespectful to others and bad manners ¾ If you are late for a meeting, you hold everyone up and delay the start, which means the group may not get through all they need to ¾ If you are late for a class, it may start without you and you miss important information ¾ Time adds up – if you lose an hour a day that’s 5 hours in a working week wasted ¾ Others might be depending on you to be there
Emphasise that being late not only disadvantages the individual, but others around them. Remind students that being on time for a class / meeting / workday is important and is expected. Teach these tips for being on time: List what has to be done before you leave and estimate how long it will take Know how you will get there and how long it will take Based on the two points above, know what time you must begin to get ready and what time you must leave. Being at a 10.00am meeting does not mean leaving the house at 10.00am! Sometimes being on time means actually arriving earlier. Imagine that you own a small shop or market stall. If you are going to be open for business and ready to serve customers at 8.00am, then you’ll need to arrive at 7.30am to prepare for the day.
When being late is unavoidable
Sometimes, despite the best planning, being late is unavoidable. A car accident may cause traffic to be at a standstill, a child is unexpectedly sick and needs more attention than usual before you can leave the house, a work schedule changes and you are required to stay back to finish a task. Explain to students that in these instances it is basic courtesy to advise others that they will be late. Students should explain the reasons for the delay and what time they expect to arrive. This will help to minimise the inconvenience to others, allowing them to make a plan to accommodate the lateness.
Tips for the trainer
The best way to teach students about good timekeeping is to enforce it in everyday activities: Participants who are late for meetings cannot attend. Require students to contact you if they are unavoidably late. And lead by example: be on time yourself.
Personal budgeting Overview
Objectives Daily spending list
Incomes for many people in Swaziland are irregular. It is important for people to learn how they can live within their means and learn to put money aside for important expenses, like school fees, or for times when they have no income. Personal budgeting is an important skill in alleviating poverty – spending precious income on a new cell phone won’t make a difference to a persons overall wellbeing. Inflation is also increasing dramatically and it is important to discuss why prices are increasing and to help the students be aware of these issues and to plan ahead. Training in budgets and costings should help students to: Manage their own personal budgets and understand basic finances Ask students to write down everything they spend money on each day, and to keep this spending record for one month. They will most likely notice extra costs, like school trips, that they forget to budget for. They will also notice extras like cool drinks, which could be cut back. Spending E4.00 a day on a Coke is E120.00 at the end of a month! This could be saved instead, as it is not an essential expense like, for example, rent. Any small notebook is fine to keep this monthly record. A typical daily spending list would look something like this: Daily Spending List Monday 1 Oct 2008 Bus fare
Child’s school trip
Total: E 64 Tuesday 2 Oct 2008 Bus fare
E 2 Total: E 17
This is a useful activity regardless of how much someone earns. It is the most accurate way to see: Where money is spent Where cut backs might be possible Expenses that may have been missed in estimating your monthly budget.
Personal monthly budget
Ask students to make another list to work out their monthly budget. They will need to create two columns, just like in the Daily Spending List. In one column students should list each expense they have every month, like rent, electricity, bus fare and food. Then in the column next to each item have them write the monthly amount they need to pay. It is important to include all expenses, even that one can of Coke each day. Some expenses are paid yearly, like school fees. To get the monthly amount divide by 12. For example, if school fees are E1200 per year, the monthly amount is E100. A typical monthly budget would look something like this:
Personal Monthly Budget Expenses Rent
School Fees (1200 a year ÷ 12)
Uniforms, books (600 a year ÷ 12)
E 45 Total: E 890
Monthly Income Selling vegetables
E 725 Total: E 975
Balance = E975 – E890
+ E 85
This monthly budget shows that expenses each month total E890, and monthly income is E975, leaving E85 that can be saved. Note that although school fees and uniforms & books are paid once a year, money needs to be set aside each month so that there is enough when the time comes to pay these bills. Sometimes a monthly budget may show a negative amount because expenses are more than the income earned. For example, imagine expenses add up to E890, but the monthly income is only E800. The balance is â€“ E90. In this case there are two choices: 1. Decide which expenses can be cut back on, or 2. Work out how extra money can be earned.
Tips for the trainer
Students should keep a record to see how their actual spending compares with their monthly budget to ensure they are on track with their budget. Overspending in any area, or forgetting to include some expenses, will make a big difference. It is important to have regular meetings on this issue and monitor the progress made. Trainers should read up on relevant economical issues and discuss these with the students so that they have a clear understanding on why, for example, bread, electricity or transport costs have risen yet again. It is vital to have group meetings and come up with suggestions on extra ways to generate income.
Setting goals and action plans Overview
The power of thoughts and words
Having goals is an essential part of building self confidence and developing aspirations and hope for the future. Goals help people to grow and expand and achieving them can bring a strong sense of personal fulfilment. Training in setting goals and action plans should help students to: Understand that their thoughts and words can affect their success Recognise their achievements Set their own goals and action plans Feel inspired about their future Countless books have been written about the power of positive thinking and there are plenty of studies that support the theory. When people are struggling with poverty, illness, drought, and uncertain futures, as is the case for many people in Swaziland, it can be difficult to develop confidence or have hope for a brighter tomorrow. It can be difficult to muster the strength to give something a go – it is easier to say “I can’t” instead of believing “I can”. It’s easy to talk one’s self out of anything worthwhile. Do this simple activity with a group to demonstrate the power of thoughts and words: Ask the group to say out loud: “I am stupid, ugly, and useless”. Have the group repeat this phrase for a few minutes. Then ask them to describe how they feel. Generally at the end of the few minutes, the group will be looking glum and report feeling sad. Next, ask the group to say out loud: “I am fantastic, beautiful, and successful” and repeat it for a few minutes. Many students will laugh, and the overall mood of the group will perk up. Nothing has changed except the thoughts in their heads and the words they have used. Thoughts and words have power. How a person thinks about themselves and their future will make a difference. Ask students to think of their own positive affirmation. Have them write it in their note books and encourage them to repeat it to themselves daily.
Recognising past achievements is also important in building self-esteem and the confidence that new goals can be accomplished. Ask students to think about and write down what they have achieved. Passing Form 5 while caring for your sick mother and your younger brothers and sisters is an achievement. So is being able to sell vegetables at the market that provides the school fees for your child. Students applying at Indlu are asked what they have been doing in the last two years. All too often the response is “nothing”. Some probing reveals that they have probably been playing an important role at home. “I have been caring for my family” or “I have been managing the homestead” is a much more positive way to look at things than “nothing”. Explain to students that not only will they feel better seeing things in this way; others will also view them more positively. This is especially important when applying for jobs. The practices of thinking positively and recognising achievements will need regular reinforcement. This can be done whenever there is an opportunity – in group discussions or workshop situations and in individual conversations. This is important groundwork for being able to set goals and action plans.
Goals and action plans
Writing down and verbalising goals helps to make them more concrete. Having goals is closely tied in with having hope: just writing down what you want is a hopeful statement in itself. Goals give life direction and purpose. Ask students to write in their notebooks where they want to be in two years. Some example goals are listed below.
I’d like to have a vegetable garden I’d like to have both of my children in school I want to go and study in South Africa I want to start my own wood carving workshop
Then next step is to break this goal into smaller chunks – this is the action plan part. It’s the map for how to get to the goal. These smaller chunks are called key steps or milestones. The case study provides an excellent example.
Case study Nonzwakazi is the Assistant to Indlu’s Project Manager. She is employed full-time in this position, loves her job and is keen to continue to learn and improve. But this isn’t where she started. Nonzwakazi came to Indlu a little less than a year ago. She was 35 years old, unemployed, had no savings, had not completed high school and was ambitious for a better life. She had clear goals: to get a good job or start her own small business; educate herself with new skills; and achieve this within one year. Her first step in achieving those goals was to book into a course at Indlu; she completed all of the Indlu courses over a two month period and then started doing piecework to earn money. Nonzwakazi made herself helpful at Indlu, volunteering to do almost any task. Her enthusiasm and her belief in herself were evident and her efforts rewarded with a job offer at Indlu within four months. Thriving in her role and proud of her accomplishments, Nonzwakazi now has a new set of goals and action plans for the future:
Goals Action Plans Improve writing in Take evening classes in English; buy a English. dictionary; ask Project Manager to help me. Learn how to be a good Take reports and information home in trainer and get results. evenings/weekends so I can study what results we are getting from training Start saving for future. workshops. Open a bank account starting in December; aim to save E300 per month.
Along with the overall goal and the milestones, students should think about other factors that will affect the accomplishment of the goal. Ask them to think about these questions and write down their answers:
What is the benefit of achieving the goal? How long should it take? What problems might be encountered? What can I do to overcome these problems? Who can give me encouragement? Are there any role models to look up to?
Students should keep a diary or planner with the key steps written in. Otherwise, time just slips away. For example, if the goal is to have E1200 saved for school fees by January, then the milestones could be to save E300 each quarter. In the diary, mark the date each quarter by which the money should be saved. Seeing progress towards the goal builds self esteem and motivates further achievement. It creates hope for the future.
Tips for the trainer
♦ Empathise with the students. Think of your own experiences, goals, and achievements and share them with the students. Knowing that others have overcome hard times and struggles can be encouraging. ♦ Invite guest speakers along sometimes to share their stories too. Guest speakers can be anyone with experiences or success stories to share. Ask a bank to speak on overcoming personal budgeting challenges, ask successful micro-business operators to share their lessons learned. Give guest speakers enough notice to be able to prepare, tell them about your project and why you think they would be a valuable guest speaker. Give them guidelines on the topics you would like them to cover. Don’t be shy to ask, most people are happy to help out and talk about themselves and their successes.
Many people, particularly those who are young, lack work experience, or are from rural areas, do not have confidence communicating in group situations or with people perceived to be in positions of authority. The reasons for this can include shyness and low selfesteem. The education system in Swaziland is another contributing factor – it does not encourage open, two-way communication instead it focuses on lecture-style teaching methods and learning by heart. Consequently, many young people leave school without having developed the skills or confidence to ask questions, or to communicate openly.
Training in communication skills should help students to: Understand how good communication skills are important in everyday life Develop confidence in communicating and listening Realise the effect of non-verbal communication (body language)
The importance of good communication
Communication is important in a variety of situations and it’s a twoway process. To demonstrate the role of communication in everyday life, ask students to think about and discuss the following situations. The quiet class A teacher has just finished explaining how to cost a product. At the end of her example the teacher asks the group if they have any questions. There is no response. Silence. Not one question. The teacher has no idea how much the group have understood or whether there are some points that need further attention. Many of the students are confused over a certain point but no-one is willing to speak up for fear of looking silly. The class ends: the teacher has had no feedback to gauge the effectiveness of her lesson; the students remain confused on a few points. Has anyone gained from this situation? Imagine instead that one student asks a question. It’s to the relief of almost everyone in the group. From that, one or two more questions are asked. The teacher’s answers provide everyone with a greater understanding of the topic. Next time the teacher presents this topic to a new group of students, she will know to give those particular points more attention. A much better outcome for everyone. Working in a team Teams work best when everyone shares thoughts, ideas, and information. Open and direct discussion is important to help the team members evaluate ideas and eventually achieve their objective. Would teams be able to work without communicating? 26
Dealing with customers In a micro-business, working with customers requires ongoing communication. Customers like to know about the product they are buying – what it’s made from, how long it takes to make, what inspired the design, can they place an order and what it costs. The ability to discuss needs with customers and suppliers is very important. A poor response may mean the loss of a sale because customers may not have confidence in someone who cannot answer their questions confidently, has a shy, awkward manner or does not call back. Problem solving Communication is also important in finding solutions to problems. Imagine a situation where someone has an opportunity to participate in some free training. They would really benefit from this training, but the bus fare to get there each day is more than they can afford. One option is to say nothing, and simply not do the training. Another option is to be confident enough to raise the issue to see if a solution can be found – it just may be that someone lives nearby who can offer a lift.
Good communication skills come overcome with practice. The communicating the less scary it students to develop confidence ideas:
with practice. Shyness, too, can be more practice a student has with becomes. Create opportunities for in communicating. Here are some
Ask students to stand and speak in front of the group for one or two minutes on any topic they choose. Have the group give them positive feedback and suggestions for how they could improve. Make it fun and light-hearted so it’s less threatening. Encourage contributions and questions during classes and meetings. Never make anyone feel silly for asking a question or making a suggestion. If someone has a question, suggest another member of the group to answer it. Begin exposing students to unfamiliar people. Have them give a visitor a guided tour, ask them to talk to a customer about their product, ask them to show a new student a skill. One on one interaction is easiest at first.
Spoken words are not the only way in which people communicate. There are many non-verbal ways that we communicate. We form an impression of others in the first few seconds we see them, based on their dress, posture, facial expressions. Body language also conveys impressions. A fun exercise is for the trainer to act out (without any speaking!) different attitudes or moods and have the students guess what is being communicated. For example, striding confidently into the room and banging a fist on the table will likely signify aggressiveness. Try to convey attitudes such as confidence, shyness, friendliness, arrogance, anger etc. Have students practice positive characteristics including standing tall, looking people in the eye, talking in a clear and loud voice. Encourage these behaviours to continue in real life. Another activity is to use the example of someone asking for a job. Indlu has found that many people approach a prospective employer, look shyly at the ground and mumble “please can you give me a job?” Have them practice more positive approaches where their body language is confident and they speak confidently.
Tips for the trainer
Personal presentation is an extension of body language. Personal appearance also “speaks” without a person having said a word. Clothing should always be neat and clean and any holes neatly repaired. Wear shoes – cheap flip flops are better than bare feet. Keep your body clean (be aware of odours from sweat or not bathing), hair neat, and men should shave. Clothes do not have to be expensive or fancy, just neat and clean. What do you think when you see someone who is dirty and scruffy? Would you give them a job, or buy their products?
In workshop and meeting situations, constantly ask questions to check students’ comprehension. Promote active listening – students should carry a small exercise book with them and, especially during workshops, take notes to help them remember information.
Problem solving and creative thinking Overview
Problem solving skills are essential in our working lives and in our personal lives. Students need to develop the ability to apply problemsolving skills when they are faced with issues or problems so that they can find solutions or compromises that will remedy the situation. Having the confidence and skills to find solutions can help temper feelings of helplessness. The development and use of problem-solving skills also improves learning: rather than passively receiving information, applying problem solving skills helps people develop real understanding.
Training in problem solving should help students to: Apply fundamental steps to help them resolve real-life problems in their home and work lives Think creatively to solve problems Feel encouraged to share their problems with others Develop a sense of personal empowerment
Problem solving steps
There’s not a perfect answer to every problem, however solutions or compromises can be found for most problems if the time is taken to examine them logically, creatively and thoroughly. Many people simply do not take the time to explore all the options. There are numerous books, Internet sites and magazine articles on problem solving. While they may use different terminology and descriptions, broadly speaking, the main steps in problem solving can be summarised by asking some key questions. Encourage students to ask themselves these questions when they have a problem – for simple problems they can do this in their heads; for tougher issues, it’s best to write down the answers as this helps to clarify thinking.
What is the real problem to be solved? What are some possible solutions? What might happen if I put these solutions into practice? Which is the best option? This is often the most difficult step of all. Ask for help – seek advice from someone with experience and good judgement.
Once a decision is made about the best option there are two more important steps: Do it! Implement the solution, take the first steps. Later on, review whether the solution worked or not and think about what you would do differently next time.
Applying creative and innovative thinking to problems is vital if people are to improve their lives. Swaziland is currently facing many challenges, some that previous generations never experienced at all. Old solutions don’t always work. Sometimes there aren’t any old solutions. New ideas are needed! It is a mistaken belief that creative thinking only applies to art and design. Indlu has seen that with each group of new students they sit and wait to be told what to do. They display little initiative and don’t question, challenge or argue. Indlu feels it’s important to change this behaviour if people are to be genuinely empowered. This comes slowly through practicing communication skills and problem solving skills and promoting new ideas. Good leaders will encourage people to make suggestions and propose different ways of doing things. Keep the core concept of creative thinking at the centre of all training and foster it in all that you do!
Every idea is a possible solution
Here is a fun activity to do in a workshop situation with a group of students. The activity is designed to inspire creative thinking in problem solving and it also demonstrates the value in sharing a problem. By using brainstorming with a group, students can see how many possible solutions there are to a problem – some they may never have thought of – and can then practice using the problem solving steps outlined above. Present the problems shown in the box below to the group (one problem at a time) and ask students to suggest solutions. Write them all down, no matter how strange the solution is. Try to get as many different solutions as possible, at least 20 for each problem. Do not question or analyse the solutions yet. The pace should be fast and fun. Thinking too much at this point will inhibit creativity. Once there are lots of ideas then go through them. Discuss and evaluate the various ideas and choose the best solution (the one that the majority are happy with).
Every Idea is a Possible Solution # 1 20 giraffes appear from over the mountain and nobody wants them. What do you do with them? # 2 You see somebody from your group steal water pipes and tools donated to the community â€“ what do you do? # 3 You get a huge order for your product, but you first need E2, 500 to buy the materials. How do you get the money?
Using as an example problem #1 above, possible solutions that students identify include everything from praying to starting a game park. When you reach the evaluation stage of the exercise, probe students to think about the consequences of these solutions: is praying enough; how do you get fencing materials for the game park? The aim is not to dismiss the ideas, rather to progress thinking beyond just the initial solution. Evaluating alternative solutions is an important step in getting to a decision.
Sharing a problem not only helps to identify many possible solutions, psychologically it helps to ease the burden of the problem. Persuade students to share their problems and try to solve them as a group. Hold regular problem-solving sessions with the group where they have an opportunity to present real problems and seek help from their peers. For the shy ones in the group, allow some one-on-one time with the trainer. Talk to students about identifying role models or mentors in their lives that could also assist them with problem solving. The people they select should be mature and trustworthy and demonstrate wise choices in their own lives or businesses.
Learning how to make decisions and acting on them gives people a sense of control and empowerment and helps alleviate feelings of helplessness. With practice, problem-solving skills and confidence will develop.
Case study Zandile was relatively new to Indlu and was doing well. She had completed a course and subsequently had plenty of piecework orders to work on at Indlu’s workshop. It was therefore a surprise to the Project Manager when Zandile said she couldn’t continue at Indlu. When asked why, Zandile replied that she had a problem. She did not have the bus fare. Zandile didn’t want to leave - she needed the money and enjoyed making the products - but she could see no other option. Further discussion with the Project Manager revealed the real problem. Zandile’s husband was no longer working, and her sister died the previous week leaving three children in her care. There was simply no money to spare and she needed to be at home to look after the children. Zandile felt helpless. Once the real problem was clear, Zandile and the Project Manager were able to brainstorm possible solutions. Together they came up with a workable plan. They found another product that Zandile could make at home. Indlu supplied her with the tools and materials and an order. She only needed to come to Indlu once a week to deliver her finished products and would receive her pay the same day. By sharing her problem and using the problem-solving steps, Zandile was able to continue work she enjoyed, care for her sister’s children and bring much needed income for the family. She also had the chance to get out once a week to see her friends at Indlu.
Tips for the trainer
Assist your students to resolve their problems by working through the problem solving steps with them. When your project has a problem, ask the group to help YOU resolve it. They may have some great ideas on how to save money or raise funds, or tell you why a workshop didn’t achieve results, for example.
Dealing with conflict Overview
Conflict is a natural disagreement resulting from individuals or groups that differ in their attitudes, beliefs, values or needs. It may also stem from past rivalries or personality differences. Conflict can escalate out of proportion if it’s not managed properly and if left unresolved, it can be damaging to the team and/or individuals. If conflict is handled well it can be healthy, leading to growth and innovation and new ways of thinking.
Training in conflict resolution skills should help students to: Deal with conflict in a mature and effective way to reach a resolution Recognise that dealing with conflict is closely linked with communication, teamwork, and problem solving.
Conflict resolution skills
The first step in resolving a conflict is to identify what the real problem is and identify what the other person wants to achieve. Then try to find a solution that works for both sides by either working together to reach a consensus, or finding a compromise. Sometimes using a mediator can be helpful as they act to help keep things calm and focus on exploring solutions. When there is conflict, people often cry or get angry and aggressive. These are two sides of the same coin and neither is helpful in resolving a conflict situation. Sulking or not speaking are also not helpful behaviours. Instead, keep a cool head: Listen Think clearly and logically Speak calmly Role-playing is a very effective method to demonstrate the dos and don’ts of resolving conflict. Indlu uses as an example, an argument about a customer’s order, where two people have forgotten to do certain tasks and consequently the order is not ready in time. Have two students act out this scenario where each person becomes defensive, emotional and blames the other. Have the group observe the role-play scenario and identify all the don’ts.
Discuss as a group better ways in which the conflict could have been handled. Then repeat the role-play scenario using these ideas and other effective conflict resolution techniques. The trainer should act as a mediator, giving each side an opportunity to tell their side of the story. This ought to reveal that each side shares some of the responsibility and that they may have misunderstood each other’s actions. The mediator should guide the parties toward working out what can be done to prevent the mistake happening again. For a group with more advanced skills, try the role-play without using a mediator to guide them. Remind students to keep the same principles and techniques in mind: stay calm, be mature, act professionally, and focus on finding a solution. It’s important to keep things to the point and avoid a situation where students ramble on about their problems. Focus on getting to solutions.
teamwork, and problem-solving
Clear and open communication is the cornerstone of successful conflict resolution, teamwork, and problem solving. Without open communication it’s not possible to understand the real cause of a conflict or problem or how to resolve it. Think back to the examples in the communication section where we considered how communication affects teamwork and problem solving. They are all interlinked. Sometimes conflict can arise out of jealousies within a team. If one person is seen to be more successful or is given a leadership role, other team members may react negatively. Emphasise to your team that when someone achieves, it is recognition for the efforts of the whole group. Genuine happiness for the success of others will bring further success to the group; jealousy will not benefit anyone in the team.
Tips for the trainer
When real conflicts do occur, use them as opportunities to practice and demonstrate appropriate strategies. Some level of conflict is natural, particularly in a team environment and it is unrealistic to expect that all team members will get along equally well. However, it’s important not to allow damaging bullying, gossiping or other malicious behaviour. If you observe this happening, remind students to use appropriate behaviours. If they don’t demonstrate a willingness to do this, then you may just have to be tough and ask them to leave your project, particularly if any violence or abuse occurs. Teach students that there is no place at work or training for conflict arising from personal issues. Ask them to leave personal matters at the door and to ensure they interact with others in a respectful and professional manner.
Product costing Overview
Indlu undertook a product costing exercise with a rural community group that were making baskets. The baskets were selling well and the sale price was good. To the community it seemed that they were working hard and making some money. But once all the costs of production were taken into account, the true results of their labour amounted to only E3 a day! In the context of poverty alleviation, E3 per day is really not very helpful. The results of the product costing exercise were a surprise to all and this story illustrates the significance of knowing how to properly cost a product. Training in product costing should help students to: ÂŠ Be able to calculate the cost of making their products ÂŠ Set realistic selling prices for their products ÂŠ Create a price list for their products It is very important that students know how to calculate the cost of their products. Many make the mistake of assuming the selling price is the profit, not taking into account the cost of materials or their labour. By knowing how much it costs to make a product, students can then set a selling price that will cover their expenses and enable them to make a reasonable profit. The main expenses in making a product are materials and labour. Then there are a variety of other costs such as packaging, labels, delivery, and cell phone calls. Each of the main costs is discussed below. Labour costs Students should not price their labour at less than E35 per day when costing their products. (This amount however, is increasing constantly due to the escalating inflation rates at present.) Good quality work deserves a fair reward. Being serious about alleviating poverty means being serious about a fair price for labour. Materials Students need to cost all of the materials they use to make their products e.g. beads, fabric, wood, wire, thread, glue, nails - whatever is used to make the product. If the purchase price of materials increases over time, this should be reflected in the costings and the sale price of the product adjusted accordingly.
Other expenses There are many indirect expenses that are easily forgotten. When the product is completed, it may be given a label and packaged in some bubble wrap. There may be bus fares to purchase materials or deliver the product. There may be cell phone calls to arrange delivery. All of these are real costs of production that need to be included to accurately calculate the cost of making the product. If workshop space is rented or an assistant is hired to help with production, these costs also need to be counted. Here is an example using a large wire and bead giraffe sculpture: Product Costing for Wire & Bead Giraffe Sculpture Materials Beads: 4 packets at E25 each
Wire: Â˝ roll at E18 a roll
Expenses Bus fares (delivering order)
Cell phone calls
Your labour 2 days work at E35.00 per day Total:
E 70 E 200
In this example, the payment (profit) is only E70. The balance of E130 is what was actually paid in order to make the item; there can be no discount on these expenses. It is necessary to list all of the expenses in making the product and donâ€™t forget any indirect or hidden costs. The costing in this example is based on making the item at home and there are no workshop expenses. This product should not be sold for less than E200 to ensure that the cost of all materials is covered and sufficient profit is made. If the product is being sold to a shop then E200 would be a reasonable wholesale selling price. However, if it is sold by the craftsperson at their market stall, then a higher retail price could be sought, say E340. Compare prices for similar products and price competitively. 36
Remind students to keep some of their profits aside for buying more materials. Pricing large orders On larger orders costing is a little different. If somebody orders 20 giraffes, it would still cost the same amount for bus fare to deliver for example. Maybe an assistant would have to be hired to help which must then be included in the pricing. The cost for making one wire and bead giraffe may not be the same as making twenty. For large orders, the initial outlay will be high because of the large quantity of materials needed. Explain to students that they should ask for a deposit on large orders. The deposit will help them to cover this initial outlay and will help to ensure the buyer is genuine about the order.
What price to sell?
Once the real cost to make a product is calculated, it is then possible to decide the selling price. The selling price will vary depending on whether the student is selling to a shop or direct to customers. Selling to shops versus selling direct to customers A wholesale price is the price at which the product is sold to shops. The wholesale price is lower than a retail price because the shop will order larger quantities and because they will need to add their own mark-up. Shops will add a mark-up of around 50% to 200% to the wholesale price - this is to cover their own costs and to make some profit for their shop. The retail price is the price direct to the customer who is only buying one or two of an item. Students may get more income this way but they will need a place to sell their products such as a stall. This comes with extra costs, such as rent for the stall, travel expenses each day, or hiring someone to work at the stall. In determining the selling price for a product, students must do some homework. What are similar products selling for in the shops? At the market stalls? If their product is more expensive, will it sell? Maybe it will if it is better quality. If the price is lower, they may better their chances of getting orders. Prompt students to explore. Visit shops often. Talk to the shop owners, ask questions: what sells, what are they looking for?
Making a price list
Students should have a clear price list showing the wholesale and retail prices for their products. One of the first questions a buyer will ask is â€œhow much is it?â€? Having done an accurate product costing and some good research, a price list is the final step. It will convey a professional image and ensure thereâ€™s no confusion about prices. Some items are sold at very low prices at craft centres. If that means 37
not enough profit can be made from making that item, then consider whether it is really worthwhile. Making E3 a day from baskets is madness; encourage students to make something new and different instead. In Swaziland craft markets tend to sell stall after stall of the same handicrafts, many of which are imported from Mozambique, Kenya, and South Africa yet, are passed off as local craft. Why not make original, innovative, 100%-made-in-Swaziland crafts? Innovation will make more money than copying oversupplied, low quality products.
Tips for the trainer
Discuss various costing options in class and work out different plans and costs. Do an exercise to compare making one item versus making 20 items. Discuss whether it is better to sell wholesale to shops or retail direct to customers; the answer will be different for different products and circumstances. Use real life examples from the students â€“ take one of their products and work through the process of identifying all of the expenses involved, comparing it to the sale price, and determining if this is a fair price. Encourage students to understand their product costs. If they are making an item that sells at E20 and the competition sells at that price too and it takes five days to make, it is not cost effective. Stop! Create a new product that pays better.
Product development Overview
There is a huge market for good quality, original handmade products. Traditional African crafts that have been adapted to a contemporary design are very popular. For example, using traditional indlamu beadwork to make stylish table runners and handbags has been very successful for Indlu. Customers are willing to pay good money for products that are unique and have a story. Product development is about coming up with new products, new ideas and fresh new designs.
Training in product development should help students to: Develop their creativity and feel confident to play and experiment with new ideas Fine tune new products to meet customer expectations Review and improve existing products
Indlu holds regular product development workshops with students to allow an opportunity for creative expression and experimentation. None of the students come to Indlu with any artistic background, yet the ideas that come through in these workshops are marvellous. The trainer may need to kick-start the creative process, especially with new students, perhaps giving some basic ideas and the tools and materials. The trainer will also need to be on hand to give advice and feedback. One of the challenges for the trainer, however, is not to cross the line and do the creating themselves. A key part of the learning process is to let students try out ideas and concepts and problem solve. Get the group to help each other and discuss ideas and problems. Many of the life skills covered earlier in this guidebook – communication, teamwork, problem solving – will all come into play in these workshops too. Use magazines and art books to help provide inspiration, have pencil and paper available for sketching and an assortment of different materials to use. Then just play! At Indlu, a lot of useless and strange stuff is made in these workshops but amazing new products and concepts come up too. A core part of Indlu’s training is to constantly generate new products and ideas. Encourage students to create products which are not only visually pleasing but also functional – people like things they can use and not just look at.
Creating a final product to the point where it is ready for production usually takes more than just the workshop; it can take several weeks. The product development workshop may give the overall concept or a model to work from but then the design and construction will need fine tuning. Be prepared to add things, change things and re-do until it’s perfect. Indlu tests the market with new products, actively seeking feedback and working to meet customer expectations. Once the product has been refined, it may then only take a day or so to reproduce.
Case study One of the newest and most exciting products in the Indlu range is its “Magic Calabash”. This innovation was a direct result of a product development workshop. A team of students with various skills were brought together – bead workers, wire workers, papier maché sculptors – and given a calabash to work with. The idea of the Magic Calabash was inspired by the traditional sangoma calabashes that are used to store muti. Students were tasked with using this concept to create a make believe “magic” calabash with a story. Students were asked not to start making anything immediately. They were encouraged to look through art books; touch, feel, think about and play with materials; and draw concepts and ideas before beginning. They were asked to seek feedback from each other about their ideas. The group worked together to solve problems and refine designs. They also helped each other with production: the papier maché sculptor could make heads and faces to sit atop the calabashes, the bead workers could create intricate designs to decorate them. Following the workshop, students were given a week to refine and complete their designs. The result is a unique range of handmade products based on Swazi tradition. Each student created a story to attach as a label to their product, giving each Magic Calabash a special individuality.
Tips for the trainer
Sometimes students or independent artisans will bring a product to Indlu to seek advice. Indlu will hold a workshop to give tips on how to improve it, looking at factors such as quality and detail. Using a group approach generates lots of ideas and views and the process also teaches students what to look at in their work.
Don’t confine creativity and experimentation just to product development workshops; foster it in all that you do. Provide enough direction to inspire designs but don’t dictate. Laugh and get the group to relax and have fun.
Quality control Overview
Product quality goes hand in hand with product development. Nobody wants to buy a product that’s crooked, torn, or badly made, no matter how innovative it is. Customers also expect consistency in the quality of products, particularly if they are buying a large quantity for sale in their store. Product quality must be 100% perfect – near enough, is not good enough.
Training in quality control should help students to: Understand customer expectations about quality Pay attention to the details Identify the difference between good quality and poor quality products
The importance of quality to customers
Indlu prides itself on the quality of its products. When asked for independent feedback, Indlu’s regular wholesale customers reported product quality and consistency among Indlu’s strengths and one of the key reasons they continue to do business with Indlu. Indlu has built a reputation as a reliable supplier of good quality handcrafts. Quality sells.
The importance of quality must be emphasised to students. When a sample product is shown to a customer and they then place a large order, the customer expects the product to stay the same. Explain to students that the details are important. If they are working on a large order, give them a sample to work from. Have them study it, looking closely at the details and copy it correctly. This is where honest and direct criticism is needed, even if it’s hard for students to accept at first. Teach students about taking pride in their work and taking care to get it right. Why bother? The key to earning more money is in providing high quality. At Indlu, a supervisor checks the quality of each item. Quality control is strict and poor quality items are rejected and must be re-done. If a student has just spent five days working and produced a poor result, that is a waste of their time because it will not be accepted or paid for.
What’s the difference?
It’s essential that students learn to see their mistakes themselves and not wait for somebody else to point them out. An exercise that can be done with a group is to select and display a variety of products, some well made and others not. Ask students to choose the best and worst. Discuss what makes them different? What are the flaws in the poorly made item? Point out the details that differentiate the good quality from the bad. Have students give feedback on each others work too. Some people need their eyes ‘opened’ as they really don’t see their mistakes. Teach students that they should be the first ones to check the quality of their own work.
Tips for the trainer
A short exercise in noticing detail: look outside at a garden or group of trees. What colour is it? Green. But look closer – how many different shades of green are there? Once you really stop and look you will notice the detail. Give students the opportunity to organise an event. There are many details to think about and plan. Have them write a list of all the details that need seeing to. Have them consider the consequences, if they left out any of the details.
Talk of product development, creativity, quality control, costing and so on, is great, but it all grinds to a halt if there is no market! And this does not mean just setting up a stall, you need to make sales and get orders. Marketing is about making your creation enticing to customers and having it stand out from all the other products available on the market so that they will buy it. As much effort, if not more, needs to go into marketing, as goes into all the other stages of crafting a wonderful product. Training in marketing should help students to: Create a sales pitch Be aware of the market they are operating in Find ways to sell their products Marketing presents one of the biggest challenges for craftspeople in Swaziland and is perhaps one of the most valuable contributions Indlu offers to assist its students. On their own, students would most likely have to rely on the small local and tourist markets to sell their handcrafts, making it difficult for them to earn a reasonable living from their sales. Export markets are typically not accessible to them. Nor are the resources that would assist with marketing and sales (e.g. computers, telephones) and few students posses the important skills needed (e.g. skills to use internet, sales skills). Indlu markets products for its students and seeks customer orders. This is done through the internet and direct marketing to local and overseas shops. Indlu is proactive about marketing, initiating contact with potential buyers and following up on leads. Indlu teaches marketing concepts to its students by always involving them in the process.
The sales pitch
Marketing is tough. There is competition with a seemingly endless assortment of products from around the world. Why, then, should a customer buy your product? Ask that question – get students to make a list of the reasons. This can form the basis of their sales pitch. Students need a ‘story’ to tell about their product, it is all part of the package that helps to sell. The story can be based around facts about the product, such as, what it’s made from, how it is made, what it represents, or how it was inspired. It can also be about the person who made it. If there is something that makes their product stand out from others, they should point it out to customers. Communication skills and personality are vital here. Talking fluently, enthusiastically and convincingly about the product, go a long way toward making a sale. 43
Exploring the market
Urge students to study their market. They should know what their competition is but also be able to seek out opportunities. Visit shops to look at products and prices. Ask what sells well. Ask what kinds of products the store is looking for. Ask if there is anything that you can make for them. Most importantly, be original and have an individual style. Copying what everybody else is doing won’t help.
Marketing tips for a craft stall
For students wanting to start their own craft stall, here are some tips and ideas that can be presented and discussed in marketing workshops and then easily put into practice. Set
up a stall on the side of the road: On a road that tourists drive on Check that they can stop safely Make your stall or table stand out!
Make a special sign that reads, for example: “Great shop ahead! UNIQUE Swazi pots and baskets”. Put it up 5km before the stall. Grab the customer’s attention! Paint your table red or have a huge sculpture. Plant flowers. Do pay attention to the details. Make it a special experience for the buyer to stop at Your shop. Be friendly and attentive to customers. (Have you ever noticed how many market stalls have staff sleeping on mats - how will this help sales?). Be careful not to go overboard so that your well intentioned helpfulness doesn’t become pestering. Greet customers when they come to your stall. Say “Hello. Can I help you?” Smile. If the customer says no, leave them to look around. If the customer says yes, ask them how you can help and answer their questions. Make sure you know the answers. “Yes, this is made by… She makes them from local sisal and the colours are natural vegetable dyes…” A story helps a product sell. Remember to be clear and confident in your communication, don’t mumble or be shy. Have packaging material available e.g. clean newspaper, brown paper. Have change. Customers get frustrated when they have to wait. For big sales, consider offering a small discount or provide a small extra as a little gift. This creates a good impression and shows the customer that you appreciate their business. These tips may seem like small things but all together they create the experience for the customer. Word travels and their experience, good or bad, will be told to many others. Be busy during quiet times. Sew, make items, study or tidy up. Staring into space for hours is a waste of time and loss of potential income.
Display products neatly and attractively. Keep products in good condition: dirty, dusty or damaged products are not pleasing to customers. Have clear prices on each product or a pricelist customers can refer to. How about a little label? No need to go to an expensive printer. A friend with a computer could help out. Or just fold a small piece of card and write it neatly by hand. A small brochure that customers can take away with them is a good idea, if you have the funds to do this. It could contain some information about the person making the products, maybe a picture of the products. It is your “sales pitch” in writing. Give your shop a name. Something easy to remember – but original. Maybe there are a few friends who want to join in your roadside stall. Great, it will create more of a market place. Don’t all sell the same things. If twenty people are selling bananas, why not sell oranges instead? Or freshly squeezed orange juice? Perhaps one of you can sell pots, another can sell grass products, another does wood carving, and someone sells fruit to travellers.
Selling to shops
For students who want to sell wholesale to stores, here are some tips on how they can approach it: Students should start with exploring the market as outlined above. The next step is to make contact with shops. In the beginning go in, greet the staff and look around. Tell them that you work in clay, sisal or whatever your specialty is and that you have your own range. Ask them what their customers like. Then ask for the telephone number of the store owner, so that you can call later to make an appointment. When calling the owner, students must know what they are going to say and speak clearly and confidently. Practicing and role playing before the call is a good idea. Something along the lines, “Hello, my name is Dudu. I visited your shop yesterday, it’s lovely. I have a range of pots – they are really special – could I make a time to see you and show them?” People are busy. If you get five minutes you are lucky so don’t waste that time. For the appointment, dress neatly and be on time. Have the products neatly packaged in a box. Have a price list ready. Know how many items you can make and when. Have an order book with you. Smile. Show your products with confidence.
If the buyer says the products are too expensive, explain the quality, materials and time involved. Tell them why this product is different or special (remember the sales pitch). Prices should have been costed out properly, so you know how much you can negotiate. It may be necessary to drop prices a little to get the first order but don’t go too low. Suggest instead, that the buyer try a small order to test the market. Also ask if there is anything special they are looking for that you could make for them and be prepared to consider custom-made items if you have the skill. If they say no, smile and thank them for their time. Another option is to leave products on consignment. This means you leave the product at the shop and they offer to sell if for you. If it sells, they will take a percentage. If it doesn’t sell, the item is returned to you. This is a good way for a shop to see how popular your product is. When you do get a shop that makes an order for your products, don’t sell to the shop next door. Offer your buyer exclusivity in their area.
Tips for the trainer
Remind students about the need for continuous product development and innovation. They will need to expand their product range through trial and error, testing the market to see what sells.
Keeping customers happy Overview
Marketing can be tough and it takes a lot of effort to win a new customer. This is especially the case for new entrepreneurs trying to make a start. If students’ marketing and sales efforts have been successful then they don’t want to lose hard-won customers. Winning a customer is only the first step. The next challenge is to keep them and get repeat business. Even better, word will spread and generate more sales (meaning less time spent marketing and more time making money). What’s the secret to getting to this point? Keeping the customer happy. Training in customer service skills should help students to: Create a good impression with customers Manage orders and deliveries professionally Build a reputation as a reliable supplier Below are some pointers that will help students keep their customers happy. Some of these suggestions are more applicable where the customer is a shop, buying a large quantity. Discuss these suggestions in a workshop but start by first asking students what they think is important to customers. Urge them to put themselves in the customer’s shoes.
Be sure to have an up to date price list available. Have an order book or a standard form for writing orders. Handwritten is fine. Writing on a scrap of paper or on your hand won’t create a favourable impression for the customer. For each order write the description of the product, the quantity required, prices and the delivery date (see the sample order form in Annexure 4). This helps to ensure that both the craftsperson and the buyer are very clear on what has been agreed, to avoid misunderstandings or mistakes later on. Make sure you can complete the order by the date agreed. A late delivery may cost you future orders because the customer considers that you are unreliable.
For small initial orders, request cash on delivery from the buyer. For larger orders, ask for a deposit. Too much on credit is impossible for a micro-business to sustain. A deposit can also give you some certainty that the buyer is genuine. Give the customer a receipt for their deposit. A duplicate receipt book is an essential investment. They are cheap to purchase, around E10 for a book of one hundred receipts. Agree on the terms of payment – cash on delivery is usually best for a micro-business. Other options include a cheque or cash to be paid at a later time. If there are a number of people involved in making the products to meet the order, give them a copy of the order. That way, everyone is clear about what is required.
Delivering the product
Pack products carefully so they won’t be damaged in transit. When packing, count that what is packed, matches the order. Have someone double check. Include an invoice with the delivery, which lists a description and the quantity of products ordered. When the customer pays, write “PAID” on the invoice and give the customer a receipt. Deliver products that are 100% perfect. Remember consistent quality. Check that all products are in good condition when they are packed.
Keeping in touch with customers
Keep the customer informed of progress. If the order is being sent by mail or courier, call the customer to let them know it is on the way and when to expect it to arrive. Visit or call the customer after two weeks to see how the products are selling. Accept the feedback given and if there’s room for improvement, then act on it. If the feedback is very good, then treat yourself, you deserved it. Keep a list of clients. This can be in an ordinary exercise book. Details to include are the name, address and phone number of the shop and the name of the person you deal with. It’s also helpful to note down any special instructions or likes and dislikes, or the products they generally order.
Dealing with problems
Be reliable. Take back items if they are damaged or are not of expected quality. Always meet order deadlines. If you have made a mistake or there is a problem, take responsibility for what is your fault. Apologise and try to calm the customer. Don’t argue with the customer; give them the benefit of the doubt and reassure them that the problem will be fixed. 48
Do make sure you fix the problem – figure out what went wrong and try not to let it happen again. Your first concern should be keeping the customer happy, so that you can continue doing business with them. Over time, following these strategies, students will build a good reputation and a network of buyers.
Case study Indlu has built a good reputation with its customers and enjoys their repeat business. When asked what they like about Indlu’s services, these are the responses customers gave. The comments give an insight into what customers’ value. “Indlu is very professional, organised, and efficient… quality control is brilliant… also the product is packed well and they use a reliable courier company for deliveries” – Red Rock Tribal, Cape Town, South Africa “Indlu stand out because they do what they promise and they do it on time… Their strength is putting together original handicraft know-how with modern design” – Fair Trade Store, Helsinki, Finland “…beadwork from Indlu is high quality and consistent, and they are a reliable supplier” – Art Gallery.Com, Mbabane, Swaziland
Tips for the trainer
♦ Talking with customers can be scary. Work with students to help them work out what to say in a given situation. Role-play different scenarios. Start with something easy, like calling a customer to see if they are happy with the order. Then try something a little harder, like a customer complaint. ♦ When potential customers arrive, allow students to take turns in showing them around and assisting you in taking orders or making quotes. ♦ Once you have received orders it is important to delegate all the work to a select group to organise themselves. Let them report back to you with how it’s proceeding. We all learn so much better when we are actually working than listening to information at a workshop.
Passion is contagious! So now you have read all the practical advice! We were going to add a chapter on the challenges you will face in running an NGO or community group but realised it would be impossible to list them all. How could one give detailed guidelines on how to cope or solve these problems? If we look ahead to the next five years in Swaziland, we could all get quite overwhelmed at all the challenges facing us. We experience it every day at Indlu, as students struggle with transport and food price increases, how their families suffer as people get ill, how children are losing their parents and being left with relatives. AIDS is a huge problem and we are all experiencing its harsh effects on a daily basis. The cost of living is increasing daily, yet unemployment remains high. The list goes on and on. You are going to face the same problems when you set up your NGO or group. Being organised and having goals is not enough to help you cope. You will need passion to see you through. A passion for the members of your group and for whatever subject you are teaching and an optimistic attitude that you will make a difference! The reality of life in our region is tough; that’s a fact. It’s important to have the facts and know what you are facing. Once you know all this, just take that leap and follow your dream and believe that you will succeed! Your passion, enthusiasm and determination is what will see you through the challenges you will certainly face. Passion is contagious - the people you work with will pick it up and have hope and energy. Dare to be different! Innovative ideas are really needed now to help us all cope with the harsh challenges we face. Lots of people will tell you “no, that’s not allowed/is not practical/has never been done” and so forth… ignore them and prove them wrong. It is important to be adaptable and innovative, things are changing fast and you don’t want to get left behind. When you have those days, or weeks, when every single thing goes wrong….do stop and laugh and talk together, a sense of humour is important! And if, despite your best efforts, you fail at something, you need to accept that things do not always go your way. Getting angry or whining will not help, learn from your failures, adapt and try again. And again. This manual is a summary of what we have all learnt at Indlu so far and we hope it helps you. This is an ongoing process and we will all keep on learning. We hope to have a siSwati version of this manual at a later date. Do send us your comments! Aleta and Nonzwakazi
Annexure 1 Sample training checklist Preparation before training:
Confirm date and time of training course
Confirm number of students
Confirm date, time and venue with the Trainer
Check room is available and make booking
Photocopy handouts or notes for students
Get enough stationery for students (notepad, pen, pencil)
Make name tags or place names for students and trainer
Order lunches two days before training starts
Set up room with enough tables and chairs
Put flipchart in room
On the day of training:
Check room is properly set up with all equipment (flipchart, stationery, handouts, etc)
Pick up lunches at 10.00am
Collect evaluation forms at end of day
Tidy training room and put away all materials and equipment used.
This is only an example. For your project, list all the important activities that would need to be done for each training course. This checklist idea can be used for any activity that is repeated often – it helps ensure all the important steps are done.
Annexure 2 Sample student application form Name: ________________________________________________________ Date of birth: __________________________________________________ Education
Other courses:__________________________________________________ Address:
Cell phone number: ____________________________________________ Home phone number: ____________________________________________ Who to contact in an emergency (name and phone numbers): Name: ___________________________________________________ Phone numbers:
List any work experience you have had:
_______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ Hobbies and skills:
Which course are you interested in?
How do you think our training can help you?
Art & Design
Annexure 3 Example of a student assessment form Student name: Dudu Surname Date training started: 5 February, 2008 Course: Pottery Progress Reports: •
19 February – Dudu completed her10 day pottery training course and got a certificate.
28 February – Dudu signed up for piecework, made 10 small pots for an order. Her quality is fine but she’s still a little slow due to lack of practice. Pays attention to detail and communicates well.
8 March - Dudu asked to do a sewing course. Have booked her in.
16 March – Dudu completed sewing course and got a certificate. Enthusiastic. Part of team making tablecloths for overseas order.
2 April – Did well on tablecloth order, work of good quality. Earnings for the month approximately E800. Has signed up for a 1 day workshop on communication skills.
25 April – Dudu worked on another pot order, completed it on time. She has come up with a few new ideas and has been asked to make a few samples.
5 May – She was away for a week due to family problems. Assisting now with sewing bags and does not need much supervision. Has great potential in sewing. Pottery work is OK but her strength is in sewing and should do an advanced course.
24 May – Dudu completed advanced sewing and her work and confidence has improved dramatically. Wishes to start saving in order to buy her own sewing machine, can do this through income earned in piecework. Needs to sign up for a course in costing, budgeting and saving.
Annexure 4 Sample order form Shop name:
Delivery date: ___________________________________
NAME OF ITEM
Customer signature: ______________________________________
Duduâ€™s Pots Phone: 444-1234
PO Box 123, Ezulwini
Located at Main Road, Ezulwini
About the authors Aleta Armstrong
Aleta is the Project Manager at Indlu Finlandia. She grew up in Finland, Swaziland, Tanzania, Malta, Botswana and Denmark and moved permanently to Swaziland in 1984. Aleta established Armstrong Artworks, a screen-printing and design company that employed 30 people together with her Swazi husband, Peter and created the African Fantasy range of products. She opened two shops and marketed their own range of 50 products to local and overseas shops. Her passion for communication led her to work in the media for 4 years as a freelance journalist and cartoonist. Later on, Aleta set up an art gallery that discovered, trained and promoted local artists. In 2001, she sold her businesses and moved to Finland for a few years and experienced being unemployed, attending dubious training courses, worked in strange jobs and set up her own design studio. Aleta returned home to Swaziland at the end of 2005 and became involved fulltime with Indlu in the beginning of March. Aleta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fay came to Swaziland three years ago through the Australian Volunteers International program and has worked in the international development field at grassroots level for most of that time. Her work led her to become involved with the Indlu Finlandia project and ultimately to partner with Indlu to write this training manual. Her exposure to a range of NGOs has given her a broad perspective and understanding of the issues and challenges facing development projects in Swaziland. Fayâ€™s professional background is in human resources, training, and management consulting. These skills have proved invaluable in her work on capacity-building initiatives in Swaziland. She is now based in Sydney, Australia. Fay can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Indlu Finlandia Design & Training Centre P.O Box A75 Swazi Plaza Mbabane Swaziland Indlu is located on Mphumalanga Road in Ezulwini Valley. Phone (+268) 416 2984/7 or (+268) 6025270 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Annexure 5 Sample Budget Plan Write each separate expense you have under the expenses column. In the next column write the monthly amount you need to pay. If it is an annual amount divide it by 12. List all your expenses. Add them up to see what your total is. How does this balance with your income? Have a file where you keep your monthly budget, receipts and bills. Expenses
Rent Electricity Wate r School Fee s School uniforms School Trips Food Cell phone Medical Clothes Transport
REVIEWS “This manual frankly addresses the key issues that artists and artisans need to understand in order to do better business with corporates. A sustainable approach that has insight of local knowledge.” AB Magwaza (art gallery sd.com, Mbabane) "This manual is a primer in organization and management, covering "common sense" principles of success that in real life are too often uncommonly rare. Congratulations to Aleta Armstrong for thinking through those principles of success and communicating them in clear and simple language. NGO managers and would-be-entrepreneurs will benefit from this book, as will students and anyone else in search of self-improvement to get ahead in life." Alan Brody (former UNICEF Representative, Swaziland) “If you want to start up a project in the creative industries, read this manual immediately. This easy to read publication, shares a journey and lessons learnt, that can be applied anywhere in the world. It is written very frankly and in a user friendly manner and that is its power. This project had to work hard, think creatively and fight for every single achievement and it will teach the reader to do the same in their locality. This is essential reading, which will inspire and grow the work that you do.” Robin Opperman (Director of Umcebo Trust, Durban) “Indlu has hit the nail on the head, what an achievement! As a handcraft fieldworker involved in empowering communities I use Indlu as a reference point and as an example. This manual will benefit all of us in Swaziland.” Thandi Matola (Handicraft Officer, Ministry of Enterprises and Employment, Swaziland)